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3/04/2010

NFL Mock Draft Pt. 1

I usually try to avoid most things NFL-related, but the draft is a bit different. The reason I believe it's such a popular event and lays waste to the MLB Draft, NHL Draft, and even the NBA Draft is because it's where America's two most popular sports collide. The intrigue of seeing where "your guy" ends up and who your NFL team-of-choice selects are undoubtedly interesting. So for us fans of the college game, it's sometimes worth it for us to see what the guys we've watched and scrutinized for roughly four years go on to do with their talent. So, let's start up a mock draft (and no, this is absolutely NOT a cheap post designed for Google search engine hits....!!):

1. St. Louis Rams

The Situation: The Rams are in desperate need for a lot of additions in key spots. Their offensive line sucks, their quarterback situation sucks (former West Texas A&M QB Keith Null is their third stringer and played horrifically in relief duty this year and Boller looks like he's not returning), and plenty of other things are in need of major repair. Head coach Steve Spagnuolo came in preaching defense, but it was to no avail with the Rams ranking 31st in points allowed and 29th in yards allowed per game. In other words, St. Louis is a disaster zone.

Who They Should Draft: Nebraska DT Ndamukong Suh. Suh is a beast on so many levels and with the first pick in the draft, I'd find it hard not to go with the biggest, most physical defensive player. More than anything, the Rams need a guy to plug up the middle and break through the line with the occasional pressure. It's not just a matter of his Big 12 Championship dominance against the Longhorns, either. People who are saying Gerald McCoy is the best DT in this draft is falling in love more with the apparent physique versus the actual on-field product.

Who They Will Draft: Notre Dame QB Jimmy Clausen. While I think the Rams need a defensive lineman above all else (after all, that's how teams are built in the NFL), QB is a close second in need. So with that said, it'll come down to either Jimmy Clausen or Sam Bradford. Clausen was more productive in college (well, last year) and so far, the NFL scouts are really liking him over Bradford, but Bradford had the edge coming in. If St. Louis wants a QB, it's 50/50 Clausen/Bradford. I think they'll take the Notre Dame QB who does need some seasoning after just spending most of 2009 chucking the ball to Golden Tate, but I would say he has more upside over Bradford.


2. Detroit Lions

The Situation: Ugh. If you read this site with any bit of frequency, you know I'm from Michigan and I watch the Lions lose....A LOT. It happens every year, it's been over a decade since they were last competitive (and it took the best RB in NFL history in order to arrange that). So, yeah, they were 2-14 in Jim Schwartz's first season, but that is a two game differential versus 2008, where they infamously lost all 16 games in which they played. They have a young QB in Matthew Stafford to build around, the best WR in the game who hasn't been utilized properly in Calvin Johnson, and the defense is a mess. Right now, their major needs are at CB, the D-line, and anywhere on the O-line but preferably the interior.

Who They Should Draft: Nebraska DT Ndamukong Suh. Again, I actually think the Lions would be well-justified in trading this pick because above all else, they need capable bodies. After 8 years of Millen, 2008 was the result and in that offseason, the Lions signed a few outcasted veterans just as stop-gap players. Now in order to build, they need draft picks aplenty. However, it'll be really hard to pass up on a player with the talent of Suh. He's just too powerful and dominant at his position. Even if he was overrated, the worst-case scenario is that Suh develops into an above-average tackle and that's something Detroit hasn't had since Luther Ellis.

Who They Will Draft: Nebraska DT Ndamukong Suh. There's some chatter that the Lions are really interested in McCoy and that if it came down to Suh versus McCoy that GM Martin Mayhew would select McCoy, but that's more than likely just posturing. It's leaked out that the Lions have been talking to Suh more than any other athlete in the draft his year.


3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

The Situation: The Buccaneers had a difficult season under Raheem Morris after Jon Gruden was tossed to the wayside, but scanning this roster, things could have been worse than 3-13. It's interesting that the Bucs were as atrocious offensively as they were though. There was some turmoil at QB with Byron Leftwich starting for roughly the first half of the year and then former Kansas State stud Josh Freeman filling in. So the Bucs aren't going to be in the market for a QB with their first rounder last year spent on him.Morris is a defensive guy, so he'll be looking to improve that side of the ball even though the O may need the most attention.

Who They Should Draft: Oklahoma DT Gerald McCoy. With Suh off the board, the Bucs have to try and find an answer for the opponent's rushing offense. Teams that played the Bucs shied away from facing their secondary in favor of pounding the rock. It worked considering Tampa allowed 158 yards per game rushing which was bad enough for the last spot in the NFL. McCoy is athletic and large, so he's kind of like Suh in the mold that he's a dual-threat against the run and the pass.

Who They Will Draft: Oklahoma DT Gerald McCoy. Again, the Bucs need a run-stopper and McCoy fits the bill. They need a big body up front and obviously McCoy offers that. I'm not sure if Chris Hovan is coming back, but McCoy would be able to team up well with him. Again, even though the biggest weakness is against the run and McCoy's strength is giving a pass rush to the interior, either way it's good for Tampa. His run defense is better than adequate.


4. Washington Redskins

The Situation: Dealing with Dan Snyder is difficult, but Mike Shanahan may be the perfect type of person to deal with him. While he and Bruce Allen will be making most of the personnel decisions, I think there's enough freedom for Shanahan to get the guys that he wants. The Skins were a disappointment, obviously, but there is enough talent there to make a run at the wild card in 2010 if they get a couple breaks. Snyder is going to spend some money this offseason to fill in the holes, except in that one spot where there aren't a lot of viable options currently in free agency, which leads me too.....

Who They Should Draft: Oklahoma QB Sam Bradford. The quarterback position is the one without a lot of free agent options, and then again, none of those options would be a considerable improvement over Jason Campbell. We know Shanahan is going to run and Snyder will buy a couple defensive athletes, but QB is a spot that can't be filled that easily. Bradford obviously has some shoulder issues and his frailty is going to give owners some pause, but with Clausen off of the board, the Redskins will almost be forced to go with the Oklahoma QB.

Who They Will Draft: Oklahoma QB Sam Bradford. If it's not Bradford, it'll be Clausen. Either way, QB is the only draft pick that makes sense. Selecting Okung is a possibility if, and that's a big if, Shanahan is really comfortable with Jason Campbell behind center. It does seem however that whenever a new sheriff is in town that a QB is usually the first thing they focus on. Shanahan will want a QB to mold, and according to my draft board, he'll find that in Bradford.


5. Kansas City Chiefs

The Situation: The Chiefs didn't have a fantastic year by any stretch of the imagination under Todd Haley, but they found some things they could build on. With Pioli in charge, they spent the money on former USC backup Matt Cassel. While Cassel was dissed often as being a bust outside of the New England framework, he did have some flashes of success. This brings me to my next point: The biggest need looks like it'll come either in the secondary or on the offensive line. With the hiring of Romeo Crennell and Charlie Weis bringing them together on the same sideline, it'll be interesting to see which direction they go.

Who They Should Draft: Tennessee S Eric Berry. Kansas City needs a rock in pass protection, but they could also use a guy in the defensive backfield. Safeties rarely get drafted this high, but if they ever will, Berry fits the description. He's a rangy athlete, a great tackler, and excellent in coverage. He would remind me of an Ed Reed clone with a similar frame and set of skills.

Who They Will Draft: Oklahoma State OT Russell Okung. There's a lot to like about either player the Chiefs are interested primarily in. Berry would solidify the secondary and Okung would give them a franchise offensive lineman. Okung though has the lead because Haley wants to give an added boost to an underrated rushing offense and better side protection for Cassel. I don't think passing on Berry would really be a mistake here. Okung has great work ethic and will become an elite offensive lineman in the NFL.

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